The subscription model isn't new - doorstep newspaper delivery is almost as old as the news business itself. But as small boys got more expensive, and we all got a car to go buy our own milk, the idea of paying to get stuff delivered on a regular basis seemed to be dying.
Not any more. Most people don’t get a daily paper delivered, but increasingly it seems, we are opting for other goods to turn up on the doorstep every week/month. Consumers get convenience – who really enjoys a winter sock-shopping trip after a hard week in the office? And businesses have the benefit of a relatively predictable future cashflow.
It might be new-ish in New Zealand, but in the US it’s been booming for a while. There are, for example, eightcompanies delivering tampons/pads etc, according to Quartz (qz.com). You can get anything from yummy cheeses to babies’ nappies. And it’s taking off in the UK too where you can get, for example, weekly bacon for your brekkie, or three-monthly deliveries of seeds for your urban pots or windowboxes.
And New Zealand? Here are five of the coolest things you can buy on subscription – from mundane necessities to surprising luxuries.
Meals on wheels
My Food Bag was started in 2013 by Kiwi entrepreneur Cecilia Robinson and former Telecom CEO Theresa Gattung. It has since become something of a sensation, turning over $50 million and with 15,000 subscribers in New Zealand and Australia.
From $94.50 for one person, to $192 for a family of 4-5 wanting a classier dinner offering, most of us know someone who swears their life has been revolutionised by having their week's evening meal ingredients (and recipes) arrive un-shopped-for. Add-ons include fruit and school lunches.
Along a similar vein, Eat My Lunch offers a subscription based service to have your lunches delivered to your work or school. The bonus – you get to feel charitable, as for every lunch purchased, another gets sent to a low-decile New Zealand school.
Seems like an odd one - surely it isn't that hard to put a pack of blades in your trolley during the supermarket trip? But Lizzi Hines, founder of design company Spaceworks (and eight other related businesses) looked at what she saw as overpriced razors in the supermarket, and at the phenomenal success of US razor delivery company Dollar Shave Club – 1.7 million members, turnover of over US$65 million in 2014, and a viral video.
In May Hines launched Shave Union. Hairy subscribers pay $14 a month (six razor heads), bum fluff types might only need three heads bi-monthly ($10). New subscribers get a handwritten note from Hines and there’s a guide to good shave technique in every box.
And 10% of every subscription goes towards Hines’ new man-only charity.
Hines argues Spaceworks is offering a good-quality blade at a far cheaper price than from the supermarket, and the regular delivery means you don’t run out.
Nearly three months on, Shave Union has 150 subscribers and is aiming to get to to 1500 in the first year. Most are hipster urban males, Hines says, though she’d like to hit the rural (20-minute-drive-to-the-store-if-the-packet’s-empty) market too.
She says the subscription suits certain people – she's a subscription junkie.
“Life is so busy. I'd subscribe to getting my coffee arriving at my desk, if I could.”
Kiwi company Bow Wow Box is less for your own personal luxuries, and more for your furry friend. Sign up, and for $29.95-$39.95 (depending on the size of your dog), Bow Wow Box will deliver a box of healthy treats and toys to your dog each month. The company’s been going since the end of last year, has 400 subscribers and has delivered more than 5000 boxes.
Owner Andy Evans says the dog treats box idea came from America, where BarkBox has been sending out monthly treats for more than three years, raised $US6.7 million in early stage funding, another $US15 million last year and now has close to a quarter of a million customers, and a number of competitors.
GoodieBox is a monthly subscription service that delivers the latest beauty products to your door. The company guarantees to include a minimum of five products, including both full size and sample size. Prices start from $29 (plus the $4.50 courier fee), with the option to pay quarterly or annually for a discounted rate. If a surprise for your monthly treat is what you're after – then this may be the subscription service for you.
The beauty box has been quick to use social media to target its customers, with beauty gurus such as Kiwi Shaanxo tweeting about the service, and others filming YouTube "unboxings".
If customers enjoy the products they receive, GoodieBox has an online store that stocks products previously included in boxes, as well as a loyalty points system to help pay for these products.
It's that time of the month
Scarlet Delivery offers period packs (tampons, pads, paracetamol etc) to provide the essentials, as well as a few luxuries. The standard ‘scarlet package’ is $28 and the ‘organic package’ is $32 (both with free delivery).
The packs are personalised according to which feminine hygiene products you use, tailored to the heaviness of your period, and include something sweet, a soothing drink, such as herbal tea, pain killers, and a gift.